An international team, including ESS's Melissa Sharp, has been awarded a prestigious Human Frontier Science Program grant
The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) funds cutting edge research on understanding complex mechanisms in living organisms in the form of grants issued to teams of scientists from different countries who wish to combine their expertise.
HFSP research grants support innovative basic research into fundamental biological problems, with emphasis placed on novel and interdisciplinary approaches that involve scientific exchanges across national and disciplinary boundaries. The team awarded the grant, lead by David Lea-Smith, a lecturer in microbiology in the School of Biological Sciences at UEA, is investigating the cell biology of photosynthetic cyanobacteria and algae, and how these organisms can be used to produce industrial chemicals.
The US$1.2 million grant, awarded over three years, will be divided between the international team, which includes Lea-Smith, Oscar Ces, Professor in Chemistry at Imperial College London, Jane Allison, Associate Professor at the University of Auckland, and Melissa Sharp, a Scientist here at ESS.
The funding will allow the team to use their expertise to investigate the cellular role of hydrocarbons produced by cyanobacteria and some algal species. These hydrocarbons are similar to the compounds found in diesel and are released in vast amounts into the ocean, where they are degraded by other bacteria that clean up oil spills. As well as understanding the role of these unique compounds in the cells, this information will assist the use of microbes for biofuel production and oil spill cleanup.
Further information on HFSP awards can be found here: http://www.hfsp.org/achievements/awards.